Tuesday, Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in Women’s Basketball history, passed away. Her obituary read, “On Tuesday, June 28 2016, Pat passed away peacefully, following a courageous battle with early onset dementia, “Alzheimer’s Type.” She was only 64.
Here is a summary of Pat’s career:
-She coached the University of Tennesee for 38 years.
-She notched 1,098 career victories, more than any other Division I basketball coach
-She won eight NCAA championships (an NCAA women’s record when she retired),
-She was named NCAA coach of the year seven times
-She was named the Naismith Basketball Coach of the Century in April 2000
-She wrote three books.
Some may think, how did a woman who was active, intellectual, a great communicator, lose all those abilities in a very short period of time? Some may think, if this happened to a woman like that, could Alzheimer’s happen to me?
Many health professionals look at Alzheimer’s as a disease that has no prevention. It is important to look beyond, and take lifestyle steps to ensure that this debilitating disease does not affect you and your loved ones.
Dr. Danielle Ofri in a recent New York Times blog, says that Alzheimer’s disease has no prevention, She states, “There aren’t any screening tests that can pick up the disease before symptoms appear. And even if there were, there aren’t any treatments that make a substantial difference.1
Evidence shows there is clearly hope in regard to prevention. For example, previous research suggests diabetics have a doubled risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease was even tentatively dubbed “type 3 diabetes” in 2005, when researchers discovered that your brain produces insulin that is necessary for the survival of your brain cells. They found that a toxic protein called ADDL removes insulin receptors from nerve cells, thereby rendering those neurons insulin resistant, and as ADDLs accumulate, your memory begins to deteriorate. Recent research also points out that heart disease increases your odds of developing Alzheimer’s.
Dr. David Perlmutter is the author of the New York Times‘ bestseller Grain Brain. Dr. Perlmutter is probably the leading integrative medicine neurologist in the US, and his advice is clear: Alzheimer’s is preventable through proper diet. After spending years treating people’s neurological symptoms, he grew increasingly frustrated with his profession’s lack of ability to get to the root cause. This frustration eventually led him to investigate the role of nutrition, and he became convinced that brain dysfunction is rooted in our modern-day high-grain diet. According to Dr. Perlmutter:
“[Alzheimer’s] is a preventable disease. It surprises me at my core that no one’s talking about the fact that so many of these devastating neurological problems are, in fact, modifiable based upon lifestyle choices… What we’ve crystallized it down to now, in essence, is that diets that are high in sugar and carbohydrates, and similarly diets that are low in fat, are devastating to the brain. When you have a diet that has carbohydrates in it, you are paving the way for Alzheimer’s disease. I want to be super clear about that. Dietary carbohydrates lead to Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a pretty profound statement, but it’s empowering nonetheless when we realize that we control our diet. We control our choices, whether to favor fat or carbohydrates.”
Here’s a summary run-down of diet-related strategies that will help optimize your brain function and prevent Alzheimer’s:
- Avoid sugar andrefined fructose. Ideally, you’ll want to keep your sugar levels to a minimum and your total fructose below 25 grams per day, or as low as 15 grams per day if you have insulin/leptin resistance or any related disorders.
- Avoid gluten and casein (primarily wheat and pasteurized dairy, but not dairyfat, such as butter). Research shows that your blood-brain barrier is negatively affected by gluten. Gluten also makes your gut more permeable, which allows proteins to get into your bloodstream, where they don’t belong. That then sensitizes your immune system and promotes inflammation and autoimmunity, both of which play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s.
- Optimize your gut floraby regularly eating fermented foods or taking a high-potency and high-quality probiotic supplement.
- Increase consumption of all healthy fats, including animal-based omega-3.Eat health-promoting fats that your brain needs for optimal function such as avocados, coconut oil, butter, raw nuts, and raw dairy. Also make sure you’re getting enough animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. (Avoid most fish because, although fish is naturally high in omega-3, most fish are now severely contaminated with mercury.) High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA help by preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease, thereby slowing down its progression, and lowering your risk of developing the disorder.
- Reduce your overall calorie consumption, and/or intermittently fast.Ketones are mobilized when you replace carbs with coconut oil and other sources of healthy fats.
- Improve your magnesium levels.There is some exciting preliminary research strongly suggesting a decrease in Alzheimer’s symptoms with increased levels of magnesium in the brain. Unfortunately, most magnesium supplements do not pass the blood brain levels, but a new one, magnesium threonate, appears to and holds some promise for the future for treating this condition and may be superior to other forms.
- Eat a nutritious diet, rich in folate. Vegetables, without question, are your best form of folate, and we should all eat plenty of fresh raw veggies every day. Avoid supplements like folic acid, which is the inferior synthetic version of folate.
Many of the lifestyle tips I have gained regarding Alzheimer’s prevention and health in general come from Dr. Joe Mercola, www.mercola.com.
His information is researched, validated, and current. Please use his resource for many of your health and lifestyle questions.